Canadian LGBT cable channel OUTtv will shift its focus to a Netflix-style online subscription service, after being bought by a Vancouver investment firm.
The cable channel will remain in place until at least 2020, says incoming CEO Brad Danks. The company’s main asset will become OUTtvGo, a $4-a-month streaming site, available for now only in Canada.
“It’s a transformation that needs to happen,” Danks says, citing a sagging cable broadcasting market and a new generation of customers accustomed to Netflix and YouTube. “We felt the timing was right.”
Vancouver’s Stern Partners, the owners of the Winnipeg Free Press among diverse other holdings, won permission from the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) to buy a majority stake in OUTtv at the end of December 2016. OUTtv’s previous owner and CEO — and husband of former BC NDP leader Joy MacPhail — James Shavick will stay on as a board member.
Danks says OUTtvGo will include much of the same programming as the cable channel, including every available season of OUTtv’s most popular offering, RuPaul’s Drag Race. Danks also says he hopes the online library will grow to include more shows for young people, lesbians and other groups who were underserved by the cable channel.
OUTtvGo will not deliver adult content; Danks says there’s no point competing with the vast array of adult videos online, and a porn-free collection will make it easier to work with tech partners such as Apple TV and mobile app stores.
OUTtv first launched in 2001 as PrideVision TV, one of the world’s first 24-hour gay cable networks. Its slow growth was marked by an ultimately victorious fight with Shaw Cable, which made it deliberately difficult for viewers to see the channel. OUTtv has been owned in part by a number of different investors, including briefly by Pink Triangle Press, the parent company of Daily Xtra.